Writing Is Exactly Like Selling Tractors

Huh? 

Tractors are my bread and butter.  Not mine, specifically, as I have no experience selling them.  I could barely tell you the difference between a tractor and a combine.  Yet, after seventeen years of marriage to an Ag Manager, I know a thing or two about DH’s expectations for his sale’s force. 

Basing  my marketing plan off his successful sale’s model makes perfect sense to me.  And once I’m done, you should walk around thinking tractors and books aren’t really all that different.

  1. Writing is a product.  Books, like tractors, must provide the buyer with their heart’s desire.  Each novel, picture book or how-to has a purpose.  It may be sheer entertainment, or it may have educational value.  Regardless of how it is written, the end product is useful.  Just like a tractor is to a farmer.
  2. Writers must know their genres.  Fieldmarketers must know their tractors.  Not that I want to buy a tractor, but if I did, I would find myself a reputable dealer knowledgable about their products.  I would never buy a tractor from a business that only sold lawnmowers and garden weasles.  Likewise, I would never write a Sci-Fi on time travel using quantum physics as a basis for reality.  Though I graduated in the top 10% of my class, I can honestly admit that I am physic-ally illiterate. 
  3. Writers must have a brand or a platform to successfully sell their books.  Tractors have Case IH and John Deere (and others).  Some farmers buy on color (red vs. green) regardless of the product–simply because of branding.  Many book-buyers purchase books based on name recognition.  In a side by side throw down, the familiar name almost always beats out the competion. 
  4. Authors must be approachable.  I would never buy my hypothetical tractor from a curmudgeon.  If I walked into a dealership (and I have walked into many) and the fieldmarketer glowered at me, ignored me or was otherwise unapproachable, I would find myself another dealership.  A writer must like (or appear to like) her readership.  Bashing kids as a nasty breed is not likely to endear me to my potential buyers.
  5. Writers must deliver.  A cool cover blurb might entice me to shell out my hard earned cash on the first book, but if the writing doesn’t equal the promise, I guarantee I will never buy from Author Anita Cell again.  Ever!  I’ve been married to DH long enough to know that farmers are equally demanding.  Bad performance = negative repeat business.  Good service = customers for life.

To become successful writers, we must know what we write, care about our readership and deliver the goods.  Failing this, don’t bother heading to the nearest Ag Dealership and asking for a job.  Their fieldmarketers are held to the same high standards. 

If we are lucky, our books will grow wheels and drive themselves right off the shelves!

~cat

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9 responses to “Writing Is Exactly Like Selling Tractors

  1. Nice post baby! It sounds like you know a lot about my business. How ’bout I’ll retire and go golfing, and you can run my stores. Deal?

    • I’m like a true celeb now! My DH actually commented. TO ME!

      As much as I would love you to golf for the remainder of your life, the trade off will most definitely not be me in the boss’s chair.

      Now, if I could just get those book contracts to go through…you drive the cart and the green and I’ll write!

      hugs~

  2. I think your marketing is working because whenever I’m not sure what to do next or procrastinating I come here to read your always informative and witty blog posts 🙂

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence, Charlie.

      Now if only I could quit procrastinating by reading my blog….

      I’m almost done with my edit of my Chapter book and your critique. Just a little less procrasitantion and a little more focus.

  3. Excellent comparison Cat!

    I think I love tractors now, and I think I want to buy one. Although our 1/3 acre might not support the use of a big one… Could you send a brochure over to my blog? Oh, and I like pink. Do they come in pink? No? Okay, yellow is good.

    Seriously, though, what a great way to look at selling yourself, your work, and your brand. It’s like anything else– you’ve got to be excellent and you’ve got to deliver.

    Now, I wonder what lessons I could learn from my DH?

    • TK,

      Something incredible and awe-inspiring. That’s why we marry them!

      I can’t send you a pink tractor, but they have the cutest pink Case IH shirts now-a-days. Seriously, they’re very cute. But you might want to wear it while tinkering around on your lawn mower instead of your tractor, because I think you might be right–1/3 of an acre might be a wee small for the real thing!

  4. Yeah, a ride on lawn mower is probably more my speed. 🙂 But I think you’re right– pink would look great with it.

    Thanks again, Cat. You and your blog are awesome!

  5. Excellent points! Marketing is marketing – regardless of the product 🙂

    • Jemi,

      I’m not sure which is the harder sell, finding a publisher for that initial book deal or turning a John Deere Green farmer over to Case IH Red. I think the odds may be about the same.

      You’re very right, if we can keep in mind that marketing is just a matter of knowing a product and its customer base, we are much closer to our goals of successfully self-promoting. The model is simple, the creative tweaking to hit our target market will be the fun part.

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